Where can I check the list?

So, yesterday, I’m at home and in the middle of preparing everything for this weekend. My car was in the shop and so I was driving a loaner from the dealership. They call me to tell me my car is ready and I’m happy because it’s one less thing that I’d have to do today. I run out to the driveway to get going because the shop is going to close in a little while and I just want to make sure I get there in time.
A car pulls up in the driveway, it’s the husband of the woman who takes care of my kids during the day. He’s there to pick her up. We’ll call him “A.” A. is young Cuban man, probably in his early 30s. He hasn’t been in the U.S. too long and he works pumping concrete for a construction company. He says hello to me in Spanish and then, “Meet my dad.” I remember that “I.” , the woman who takes care of my kids, told me A.’s dad had come from Cuba last week.
I shake the old man’s hand and A. says to me, “I was telling him about your old car.” He is referring to the Dodge Polara that I’m restoring. So I look at my watch and I look at the old man with a look of expectation on his face and I say, “let me open the garage door.”
The old man’s face brightens when he sees the car. He asks me what year the car is and I tell him: 1966. He looks at his son and says, “Yeah, we never got these in Cuba. The last year we saw American cars was 1960.” I thought about it for a moment. There’s about 48 years worth of American cars the man has never seen. To him, my Polara was new. He said to me, “That’s a different emblem on the hub caps. They changed it.” I tell him yes, they changed it. And I try to explain to him that it’s now a Ram, fumbling for the Spanish word for Ram. I still don’t know the right word.
I pop the hood and show him the engine. He looks at it, impressed but tells me “Dodges had a reputation for being troublesome to fix.” I nod in agreement.
I close the hood and we head to the back, where I show him the trunk. I sneak a peak at my watch as I close the trunk lid. Just then A. says, “Dad, maybe you should ask him. He knows a lot of stuff about Cuba.” I look at them puzzled. There can’t be anything that I know about Cuba these two don’t already know.

A.’s father:
I heard something about a memorial, white crosses.
Me: Yes, it’s the Cuban Memorial, where crosses are displayed for all the victims of the regime. They do it once a year. They are raising funds for a permanent memorial.
A.’s father: Where can I check the list?
Me: I can probably check on the internet.
Then A.’s father pulls out a little notebook, the size of a credit card. He opens it up to a page and shows me a list of about seven names. Now I don’t hesitate. I head inside the house and get the laptop. I come out and go directly to the Cuban Memorial web site. I find the PDF of the list of victims. He reads me the first name and I find it on the list. I read him the date of death and the location: Matanzas. He nods in acknowledgment. We go down the list and of the seven, four are accounted for. The other three don’t appear.
I was overwhelmed with emotion. This man knew he was coming to America, he had heard about an effort to document castro’s victims and made it his personal mission to find out whether or not his friends had been forgotten. I was saddened that, in fact, some of his friends been lost to history.
If you have some money to spare, you might want to donate to The Cuban Memorial.

3 thoughts on “<em>Where can I check the list?</em>”

  1. Henry,
    Damn good story. Sad the man has to learn about his country from others. Says it all about the police state.
    Bravo, to both of you.

  2. There are times when I wonder who arranges life, and how all of the mysteries are connected.
    Three or four days ago, I sent my essay, “If Yoani Sanchez Read Your Blog” to Val, who was kind enough to place it on your site. I varnish boats for a living, and today I began working for a new customer. As we chatted, I told him my story of learning about Ms. Sanchez and finding Babalu.
    To make a long conversation short, he told me that he had been raised and schooled in Havana. His family lived there for years, and his father was killed by Castro two days after the Bay of Pigs. He told me much about those times, and what has happened since – gripping stories.
    When I came home from work and read this entry, I went to the Cuban Memorial, and found the PDF list of victims. Indeed, the Howard Anderson listed there is his father.
    This weekend, a man who lost his father – and much of his life – to Castro will sit down to read the first posts of a woman just beginning to learn the history of Cuba and her people. He reads Babalu regularly, and the fact that he will find one of my posts there is something both he and I find utterly amazing.
    I am feeling a bit of emotion myself. Thank you for your post, and for the information on the Cuban Memorial. There is much to learn.

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